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Marata Niukore returns to hometown NRL club

Tuesday 16 November 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Marata Niukore returns to hometown NRL club
Marata Niukore. GETTY IMAGES/21111508

Parramatta back rower Marata Niukore, who is a Cook Islander, will join the Warriors on a four-year contract starting in 2023.

The 25-year-old Mangere East Hawks junior has amassed 77 NRL appearances since making his debut for the Eels in 2018.

Niukore came through Warriors' system, playing for the club’s under-20 and New South Wales Cup sides before moving to Australia and had been on the club's radar.

“We had him marked down as one of our key recruitment targets once we were able to go to the market for players off contract after the 2022 season,” CEO Cameron George said.

“His home is Auckland, he knows our club really well and he’s now a well-established first grader who’s going to be a key player for us.

“He’s a really big part of our long-term future through to 2026.”

In 2021 Niukore made 21 appearances for the sixth-placed Eels and Warriors coach Nathan Brown was impressed.

“Marata has developed into a high quality second rower who’ll bring so much to our squad,” Brown said.

“We’ve been keeping a close eye on him and have been really impressed with the way he has developed his all-round game. It’ll be great to have him on our roster from 2023.”

A Junior Kiwi in 2015 and 2016, Niukore made 42 NYC appearances for the Junior Warriors in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

While still NYC-eligible, he played 15 games for the club's New South Wales Cup side in 2015 and 2016.

He played in three NRL trials for the Warriors in 2015 and 2016 before heading to Australia in 2017.

Niukore was initially limited to New South Wales Cup football for feeder club Wentworthville when he linked up with the Eels in 2017, his NRL debut coming the following year when he was used off the bench against his former club.

Primarily used in the second row, Niukore started in the centres eight times for Parramatta this year when he covered for injuries.